The Parliament of Hours

Session II
The Valetti Heir, Part 2

The group, made up of Erika Valetti, Garret Baxter and Uzochi Balewa, arrive in time to aid a group of men who were fighting off The Red Row Artifice. When the Artificers fled, the men introduced themselves as being Stephen Pryce, Ollander Hart and Marcus Cartwright, of the Gentleman’s Skirmisher Society of Gardien, claiming to be a minor street-gang devoted to patrolling the perimeter of the district of Gardien to fight off intruders in order to let its members gain some martial excitement. They showed the group their Pawn-shaped badges and stated that they did not seek to usurp The Rook’s influence, and so, the group decided not to take action against the Society. The men of the society departed in order to get their injuries patched up, and the group proceeded back towards the Croisse Shipyard… though not before Uzochi excused himself for a few moments, staying behind in the square while the others moved on, and caught up to them several minutes later with nary an explanation as to what had happened.

The group head on their way through the shipyard, which, had it not been for the light at the dockhouses at the opposite end, could be easily mistaken for an abandoned and thoroughly decrepit old wharf – the area was strewn with pieces of wood, bundles of material used for construction, discarded rope, broken glass and other miscellany, indicating that it had definitely seen better days. The three managed to get up to the dock where the light was shining, and found a door, slightly ajar. Erika peeked in, only to find an eye peeking back. Erika and the owner of the eye briefly exchanged hellos through the crack in the door, before Uzochi impatiently placed a hand on it and swung it open, noting that it seemed as though the person behind it was just about to swing it shut. The group entered the dockhouse, confronted the man on the other side – a wispy, panicked-looking young man who seemed utterly confused at their presence – and, through some brief, bumbling conversation, the group gained passage on a small boat that would take them up the river Eaïs and out of the city, where, Mulholland explained, they would meet their guide.

The group travel upriver under the cover of night, with no-one so much as uttering a word on the way. Uzochi spent most of the trip solely focused on the river’s surface, staring pensively at the water. Erika attempted to get close to him in order to intiate a conversation, which was quickly interrupted with Garret, who began to question her on her motivation, and how much she had really thought about the potential danger she could be getting into by returning to a home she knew had some strange goings-on inside. The two conversed for some time, and before long, the boat arrived at a small dock just outside the city walls, where the group met their guide.

The guide, as it turned out, was Alison Halliday, another member of the Rook and a woman that Garret had talked to on occasion when she was in L’Édifice du Roc—which was a rare occurence, as she spent most of her time in the Troug, the expanse of grassy plains to the north of the city of Montmarais. She had recieved Mulholland’s missive of helping the group to navigate the Troug in order to get to the Valetti Estate, and was happy to help them. She led the way while the other three trailed behind, and during the few hours before daybreak, the group worked their way across the hills.

The trek through the Troug was largely uneventful, until Halliday, seemingly having been pensive for most of the journey, spoke up to Erika, asking her how much Mulholland had told her about the decision to approve her request to explore the Estate. Initially, Halliday seemed uneasy about talking about the matter in front of Garret and Uzochi, but after Garret “overheard” the pair speaking to one another, she came clean and intimated to Erika that she believed that the Hautconseil, the ruling body of the Rook, should not be trusted with matters of great importance, such as the exploration of Erika’s family home. Halliday claimed that every member of the Conseil had an agenda, and that the decision to approve Erika’s request was more complicated and filled with intrigue than what Mulholland may have let on. She tells Erika that, were she to find something potentially valuable – in terms of sentiment or finance – inside the estate, that it would behoof her not to immediately tell the Conseil, just in case they attempted to procure something for themselves. And with that small hint of warning, the group continued their trek on towards the estate…

...

The Troug is a lonely place, certainly – there’s no-one else around. As you trudge on through the dewy gras, daylight slowly seeps into the sky. It’s not bright, by any means, and more than anything the dawn light seems to reinforce, rather than dispel, the feeling of emptiness that permeates the wet plains – as the sky gets brighter, you realise that though there are fields around you, nothing else is visible. You encounter no paths, no people, no signs or farms or trade routes, no fences to clim, nor streams to cross… just endless grass, lit by the morning sun that itself is hidden away behind the clouds.

Similarly, the mist lies thick on the ground; the only thing hampering you from looking to the horizon beyond the seemingly-infinite verdant plateau, preventing you from noticing landmarks of geographical features that might indicate your location, or at least grant you some sense of being present in the physical world, is the ethereal curtain of hazy grey wisps of fog that surrounds you on all sides. Even Montmarais has vanished beyond the veil of mist.

Before long, a dark shape looms up ahead… at first, it seems to be a hazy, uncertain, patchy shape, but as you continue on, you realise it is a wall, though no markers are present to indicate its relative distance or height. And then, beyond that, a darker, larger shape begins to form… edges slowly become more distinct, more concrete, and you realise that you are approaching a colossal house, rendered in what was once a grandiose demonstration of the art of architecture, but now is something close to a dessicated husk of a former home, cloaked in mist.

You’ve reached the Valetti Estate…

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Session I
Intro, "The Valetti Heir, Part 1"

1st of the 3rd week of The Rainy Season, A624.

Night has fallen over the city of Montmarais. As has often been the case over the past few weeks, there are dull, muted clouds of indiscernable stormy hues hanging above the city’s districts, completely obscuring the sky from view. The rain stopped about an hour ago, and the residual mist casts a quivering pall over the city; the streets visible from the windows of the Rook and its associated buildings are all illuminated by hazy spheres of light cast by the lampposts.

On nights that threaten rain such as these, L’Édifice du Roc tends to be more full – but certainly not “busy”. The lateness of the hour assures that most of the guild’s members, the Venturent, are asleep either in the rooms in the hotel-like building just off of the Rook itself, or else in their homes elsewhere in Gardien. Nonetheless, there are still some members of the guild awake at the present time. A small troupe sit around a table in the drawing room, exchanging stories being spread around the city; one man sits in the smoking room, hunched over a large stack of papers and books; others sit around a table in one of the spare meeting rooms, discussing missions for the guild; yet others seem to be passing the time in the guild’s library.

One man, in particular, is standing in front of the Commission Board – a huge noticeboard taking up part of one of the walls in the main part of the building, dotted here and there with quests, requests for help, missions, engagements, and so on. The man seems to be pinning two pieces of paper to the board – and, accordingly, it seems as though a number of the guild’s wakeful members have stepped up to the board as well, to seize the opportunity to check the quests before the rest of the guild, just in case someone snags them before they do. This handful of members includes Erika Valetti, Garret Baxter and Uzochi Balewa.

The man who has just pinned the notices up onto the Commission Board turns as he notices the three approach, and gives what was probably intended to be a smile of smug satisfaction, but given the fact that he was also holding a cigarette in his mouth, it looked a lot more like an expression of dire agony.

The man, as it turned out, was Mulholland, one of the seven members of the Hautconseil (the ruling body of the guild), posting two new requests to the board—one requesting for an escort to The Fens east of the city, and one involving Erika Valetti herself; Mulholland detailed that the Hautconseil had finally agreed to fund an expedition to The Valetti Estate, north of Montmarais, after months of having been deadlocked or refusing to provide assistance, which Mulholland put down to the Hautconseil having a new replacement member. Erika quickly took up the request, and both Garret and Uzochi agreed to assist the expedition. Mulholland pointed out that they should perhaps be informed of the nature of the Estate. The group took the discussion into the smoking room, and Mulholland followed.

Erika explained that, as a child, she remembered seeing and hearing things in the house – indistinct, possibly due to time or to being unable to categorise them. One night, she was awoken by one of the housemaids, and hurriedly ushered out of the estate. That night was the last time she saw any of her family; she was taken to her grandfather’s townhouse in the city of Montmarais, and has lived there ever since. Erika now suspects that the house was tied to some kind of old magic, and wants to find out what happened to her family, and what went on in the estate. The group set off once Mulholland gives them a Writ of Transit, allowing them passage of a vessel from the Croisse Shipyard, as well as a number of ritual scrolls to assist with the exploration, and the opportunity to get more gear for the trip.

Erika, Garret and Uzochi set off, leaving L’Édifice du Roc to get to the Croisse Shipyard. Erika leads the way, since she knows the streets of Gardien the best, and soon, the group find themselves outside the shipyard. However, the group hear shouting and fighting in a square just off from the shipyard. Erika goes to investigate, discovering that the fighting is a battle between a gang they know—three members of The Red Row Artifice from Soindres who were intruding on their turf, and another group of two that they’ve never seen before. Erika surmises that while they don’t know who the other group is, they might be a minor gang belonging to Gardien. However, in attempting to get a closer look at the skirmish, Erika accidentally exposed herself to a strong light source, and one of the members of the Red Row Artifice spotted her. Uzochi stepped up to the fore, however, by following up behind Erika and intimidating the Red Row Artificer who spotted Erika. Garret similarly joined in with the fray by using his psi ability to pull one of the Red Row Artificers towards the group and away from the two unidentified men. Shortly afterwards, the other two Red Row Artificers ran away, leaving behind the third, whom one of the unidentified men beat to the ground and knocked unconscious.

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